I’m planning a trip to Cincinnati in a few weeks, to catch a couple of baseball games. I’m looking for absolutely delicious food, money no object. My time frame is limited, and that creates various constraints for what I want to do. My questions concern where to eat three meals: an early dinner Saturday afternoon, Sunday brunch, and Sunday dinner downtown. I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but I know the more information I give, the better the recommendations might fit what I’m looking for. Help me find the best that Cincinnati has to offer!
FINDLAY MARKET / LATE SATURDAY AFTERNOON DINING
I’m going to be arriving downtown at Fountain Square at 2:00 pm and want to be at Great American Ball Park when they open the gates at 5:40 pm. In between will be my main meal of the day. I won’t have a car, but I’m pretty good finding my way around using public transportation. There are two ways I could go on this, and they’re not even mutually exclusive. (a) I’ve been reading about Findlay Market. It’s not far from downtown, well served by numerous bus routes. It sounds interesting enough to check it out, and maybe “graze”. I’m not sure what’s good there, and whether it’s possible to eat enough to make a dinner out of it. (b) If there’s a really great restaurant that is open all afternoon, or even one that starts serving dinner by 4:00 (*maybe* 4:30), that would work. I know there are some chain places downtown (Palomino, Rock Bottom, and Crave near the ballpark) that are okay and would qualify, but I’m wondering whether there is something better and more creative than that. What about Via Vite, which opens at 4:00; is it any good?
So my questions are these:
1. Where can I go for a nice dinner at a place that’s near downtown and open all afternoon (or by 4:00 or so)? Via Vite? Anywhere else?
2. Is Findlay Market a “don’t miss” destination for foodies?
3. Is there enough prepared food at or near Findlay Market to make a meal out of it?
I’m meeting friends for Sunday brunch, and I want to knock their socks off. They can pick me up at my hotel (not sure where yet) and then drop me off at the ballpark afterwards, so I have a bit of flexibility on location. But not on time; I’d like to be back at GABP by 11:30.
Sunday brunches tend to fall into three categories. First, there are breakfast-focused restaurants, which are usually also open for breakfast during the week. A downside of such places is that they don’t usually accept reservations, and waits to be seated can be lengthy. Second, there are restaurants that are only open for dinner and maybe lunch during the week, but have a special Sunday brunch menu, served a la carte. Many such places accept reservations. Third, there are some restaurants, often in hotels, where they do a big all-you-can-eat buffet. I don’t have any preference for one type versus another. I did some research on the ‘net, and found a bunch of places in the first category, but nothing in the other two, which I would also like to consider. Both Half Day Café and Annabel’s sound great to me, with HDC getting props for a bigger menu, Annabel’s for being closer to downtown. Other places whose menus I looked at include Take the Cake, Mokka, Nada, Melt, and Tucker’s.
So the question here is simple: Where would you go for Sunday brunch, for absolutely great food that will impress your friends and your taste buds?
DOWNTOWN SUNDAY DINNER - SIT-DOWN / CARRY-OUT
At the Sunday ballgame, first pitch is at 1:10 pm. Afterwards, I need to leave for the ride home from Fountain Square at 6:30 pm. Baseball games typically last around three hours, start to finish; however, I can't count on leaving the game at a particular time, since it might be an extra inning thriller that goes 4-5 hours, or it might be a blowout which I wouldn't mind leaving before it ends. And I'll need to be at FS 15-30 minutes early. Therefore, this will be a two-part question.
a. Sit-down dining. Let's say I have two hours between the end of the game and my departure. That ought to be enough time to have a nice sit-down meal in between. I would need a place downtown that's open late afternoon on Sundays. And I’m not big on steakhouses. I’ve found two strong possibilities, Nada and Via Vite, based on their websites. Are these any good? Chains like Crave, Rock Bottom, and Palomino are also possibilities. Any thoughts on these, and/or any other recommendations?
b. Carry-out. Let's say I have an hour between the game and my departure. That wouldn't be enough time to stop and eat anywhere, but I would have time to pick up a meal for carry-out, which I could take with me. (If need be, I could phone in the order ahead of time.) Any recommendations? I don't plan on eating much at the ballpark. I suppose I could call one of the sit-down places I mentioned in the previous paragraph to see if they can do carry-out. I was just wondering if there is anywhere else that’s really set up for carry-out, like a deli or sandwich place.
I promise to report back afterwards on where I went and how everything was.